Monday, July 18, 2011

Today's topic.... there's underwear under there

I realized, after writing a few posts, that while I don't mind sharing my words and thoughts with the world at large (or at least those few who are interested!), the target audience of my blog is my kids. I want you (my kids!) to know that I approached my life thoughtfully, that I've spent many hours pondering my beliefs and the practice of those beliefs, and carefully weighing the consequences of following my own heart, and head, in the pursuit of happiness. If I'm not around when you're all grown up, and you hear me referred to as a heathen, a heretic, an apostate, you will have my own words to help you understand who I am and what I believe.

The two traits I'm most interested in cultivating in myself are integrity, and compassion. Sometimes those qualities are at odds with one another, and I find myself in the difficult position of honoring my own need to be honest and truthful, and causing no harm to others, either physical or emotional. It's not an easy line to navigate, especially in the Mormon world where truth is not always useful. (That's not snark!.... it's a Boyd K. Packer quote!) Some things are easy, like attending sacrament meeting when I can so your dad doesn't have to sit alone. That costs me very little, and shows him that I love him and support his pursuit of happiness. Other things are much more difficult, such as the wearing of sacred underwear.

Garments are a sign of faithfulness, sending a message that the wearer adheres to the basic tenets of the faith, and believes in the back story as presented in the temple. Garments also convey the willingness to abide by the covenants made in the temple. In this community, the presense or absence of garments does not go un-noticed, and prompts questionable shoulder rubs and quizzical looks. Well, the absence does. A year ago, I thought I could navigate this faith 'crisis' without a change of underwear. Or at least without changing my style. I thought I could continue the way I have for the past 30 or so years, faithfully wearing garments day and night, with very brief breaks for showering and (brace yourselves!) certain nocturnal activities. (Yes, garments can be removed for sex!) (And sometimes, it's not nocturnal! Pause for a group "Ewwwwww!")

Anyway, I didn't anticipate outward changes that would call attention to the inward migration away from religious devotion. I thought that I could continue as before, unaffected by the shift within, hiding my true feelings behind garments and church callings. But I hadn't anticipated how much the desire for integrity between my inner and outer selves would push me toward wardrobe change. (And to clarify, I believe integrity is more than honesty. Integrity means all the parts of me are integrated into the whole, that who I am when I am alone is the same as who I am in a room full of my most devout relatives.) And the further I got into my journey, the more uncomfortable I became each time I put on garments. I realized that by wearing them, I was saying to the world that I believed, and that I agreed, and that I was a card-carrying member of the faith. None of which is true anymore.

At first, I started sleeping without them. I loved the freedom to move without the legs twisting on me and riding up. And I liked how I felt without them, more authentic and honest, more real. Free. And strangely enough, not guilty. So I stopped wearing the bottoms during the day. And I felt even better, but a little guilty because I was still playing a part by wearing the top, thus fooling any observers into thinking that I was still participating in the game. So, after a few weeks of that, I shed them completely. And I felt liberty and freedom from oppression. I know those are dramatic words, generally reserved for such occasions as the 4th of July and the signing of the declaration of independence. But taking off garments was a way to declare my own independence from what I perceived to be an oppressive environment. I just wish that my declaration could remain private; I don't really mean to broadcast to the world what I believe by way of the underwear I choose to wear. But I cannot stop others from looking for the line above my knees, or the lacy neckline under t-shirts. And making assumptions based on that. I cannot stop them from judging me. But they won't see regret for what I've left behind. I'm happy. I feel joy, and sometimes a little giddy at the prospect of living out the rest of my life on my terms, making decisions based on what I believe is right and true. Because, as the two-year-old me would say, "You're not the boss of me!"

And that, kids, is why laundry day is a smidgen simpler for me than it used to be. And why I no longer fidget and constantly readjust my underthings. And why your dad's smile is a little wider these days. (okay, pause for another collective "Ewwwwww!") Just so you know.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Shift happens......

I made a mistake at work today. We call it an 'event'. I can't go into detail to avoid breaching confidentiality, but basically I did something stupid, something that could have potentially harmed the patient. When I realized my mistake, six hours after the fact, I was very upset. I have been a nurse for many years, but I am still capable of committing the dumbest of errors. Not to be overly dramatic, but my job can be scary!
Once I had figured out what I'd done wrong, I had the difficult task of figuring out how to make it right. I was the only staff member on the unit by that time, it being the 4th of July and a slow surgical day. There was no one there to observe my incompetence, so no one there to call me on it. Just me. And I had a decision to make. I guess it's a bit sad that I even thought about it, but the fact is that I could have pretended that it hadn't happened, and nobody would ever have known about it. While there was the potential for harm, none actually occurred.
I sat there for moment, pondering the situation, considering the steps I would have to take to fix it, and I realized that, as humiliating as it would be, I couldn't just pretend it hadn't happened. I would have to 'fess up. For me, if I don't have integrity, little else matters. I really, really, really didn't want to deal with this particular physician, as I knew how annoyed he would be with me, and I knew that he would be less impressed with my honesty and more displeased with my stupidity. But, I put on my big girl panties, and made the call. And it was just as I'd envisioned: he was upset, and I felt like a little kid confessing that I'd thrown a ball in the house and broken a window. Yes sir, I made a mistake. I have no excuse. I'm an idiot? Arghhhhhhhh...... I hate mistakes!
But you know what? I feel good inside. Just as good as I ever did when I chose to do something right. The cool thing is that I chose it because it was right, and not because I might go to hell for lying. I chose to do right because that's who I am. I value integrity and honesty, even if it costs me my reputation with a doctor.
I may not have been a good nurse today, but I was a good person. And that makes me happy.